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India cannot stay neutral towards Iran: Shimon Peres

June 23, 2013 15:22 IST

Describing Iran as a "danger" to world peace, Israeli President Shimon Peres has asked India not to remain "neutral" to Iran's "aggressive attempt" to become a forceful hegemon in the region.

"Iran is a great danger....They have emerged as a danger to the rest of the world and they have mobilised the world against them, not just us," Peres told PTI in an interview.

On India's proximity to Iran, the 89-year-old Israeli leader said that he does not know "what are exactly the Indian considerations in that case because India has her own  problems with nuclear capacities", which are not "simple".

Describing India as a land historically based on values and Gandhi as a prophet who preached non-violence, the Nobel laureate argued that India cannot stay neutral towards Iran which was threatening the "existence" of other people.

"So I cannot see that a policy of non-violence can be neutral to an aggressive attempt to build a forceful hegemon in the Middle East against the will of its own people," Peres said.

The President emphasised that his country was not against the Iranian people but the current regime there was threatening Israel and also trying to arm itself with nuclear weapons.

"We are not against the Iranians, against the Iranian people. Nobody is threatening them but they (current regime) are threatening the existence of other people. What for?," he questioned.

Iran and Israel were close allies until 1979 when the regime of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was overthrown by Islamic revolutionaries led by Ayatollah Khomeini who then snapped ties with Tel Aviv.

Iran's outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad has in the past called upon several times to wipe out Israel from the world map besides denying the occurrence of the Holocaust.

"If they would just talk it was one thing. But if in addition they are building nuclear weapons, they are becoming a centre of world terror. They are introducing a sort of dictatorship, executing innocent people, putting to jail journalists", Peres said.

Israel has declared Iran's attempt to acquire nuclear capability an "existential threat" warning to foil the attempt "keeping all options on the table". Iran has maintained that its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes.

Harinder Mishra in Jerusalem
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